Police serve an injunction to protesters at a rail blockade in St-Lambert, south of Montreal, Que. on Thursday, February 20, 2020. The protesters are blocking the line in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the LNG pipeline in northern British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

All eyes are on Canadian police forces now that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said barricades on rail lines and other major transportation routes must come down.

A Wet’suwet’en hereditary chief says that won’t happen unless and until the Mounties get off their traditional territory in northern British Columbia and Coast GasLink halts construction on a natural-gas pipeline that crosses their land.

Chief Woos of the Grizzly House says Indigenous leadership will only begin negotiating with the Canadian government under those same conditions. But Trudeau says injunctions ordering the rail lines be cleared must be obeyed and the law must be enforced.

The blockades are responses by Indigenous people and supporters to a move by the RCMP to clear protesters who had been blocking access to the pipeline worksite.

Protesters who’d been blockading a CN Rail line in St-Lambert, Que., south of Montreal since Wednesday cleared out Friday night shortly after riot police arrived on scene ready to enforce an injunction to clear the tracks. But the blockade of a critical east-west rail line on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario remains in place — and more protests are planned for March 20 along the borders of Manitoba.

Ontario Provincial Police say they don’t intend to break up the Tyendinaga protest in the immediate future, however, Trudeau says the inconvenience to Canadians has gone on long enough, given that the blockades have halted rail lines for weeks.

ALSO READ: Everything you need to know about the Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute

“Let us be clear: all Canadians are paying the price. Some people can’t get to work, others have lost their jobs,” he told a news conference yesterday. “Essential goods … cannot get where they need to go.”

But Woos said the inconvenience to Canadians pales in comparison to what the Wet’suwet’en people have experienced.

“There is a difference between inconvenience and injustice — total difference. Don’t confuse one with the other,” he said after meeting with Mohawk allies on Tyendinaga territory.

He noted that Wet’suwet’en land was never surrendered to the Canadian government in any treaties, so RCMP presence there amounts to an occupation.

On Thursday, the RCMP in B.C. sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, telling them the force intends to move its officers off the access road and station them instead in the nearby town of Houston.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he believes this move meets the original conditions set by the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, but Woos said it doesn’t go far enough.

“Out means out,” Woos said.

In addition to tension with the First Nations, Trudeau is also experiencing pushback from the provinces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement Friday saying “enough is enough.”

“The illegal blockades must come down. This is a national emergency and innocent people from coast to coast are being hurt. The federal government must co-ordinate action to take down these illegal blockades across the country.”

Alberta’s Jason Kenney, a former federal Conservative cabinet minister, said the barricades are scaring away investment and giving the impression that Canada can’t operate as a modern democratic country.

And Quebec Premier Francois Legault warned on Thursday that provincial police would dismantle the blockade near Montreal as soon as an injunction was granted.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coastal GasLinkIndigenousPipeline

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Abbotsford Agrifair’s 2020 event still in the works

Fair will respect COVID-19 health directives, but continuing plans in hope ban will be lifted

Learning after spring break: more details from Abbotsford School District’s superintendent

Parents to receive call from teachers next week, asked to conduct survey to tailor learning needs

Abbotsford’s Mandarin Garden Buffet offering free food to those in need

Chinese food restaurant providing free fried rice or chow mein to those struggling during pandemic

World COVID-19 morning update: Olympics delayed one year; 12,000 health care workers infected

Comprehensive world news update: Lockdown in UK showing signs of hope

Newspapers are safe to touch, World Health Organization confirms

Just make sure to wash your hands as you would after touching any surface or object

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

Most Read